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Kidder Hill turbines to be sited in Lowell, not Irasburg

LOWELL – Renewable energy developer David Blittersdorf wants to put two large wind turbines on the Lowell side of his Kidder Hill property rather than on the Irasburg side.

And he expects to refile an updated petition for the project within a month, according to Lowell Select Board Chairman Richard Pion.

The Kidder Hill Wind project petition was found incomplete by state utility regulators on the Vermont Public Utilities Commission in July. The PUC refused to reconsider the decision, saying that Blittersdorf and his team had to include more details including more studies, information about the impact on the electrical grid and identify exactly where the two turbines would be located.

The original petition gave three alternatives: Sites for both nearly 500-foot-tall turbines on the Lowell side of Blittersdorf’s Kidder Hill property; both on the Irasburg side; or one on each side.

Irasburg voters and selectmen oppose the project, while Lowell selectmen aren’t opposed.

A Kidder Hill Wind project representative, Martha Staskus, talked to the Lowell board Tuesday evening about locating the two turbines on the Lowell side of the property, Pion said Thursday.

Staskus, of Vermont Environmental Research Associates (VERA) Renewables, told the board that they plan to petition the PUC for a certificate of public good for the project within a month, Pion said.

“We weren’t opposed” to having two more turbines in Lowell, Pion said. Lowell already hosts 21 turbines on the Lowell ridgeline belonging to Green Mountain Power.

Pion said the town could hold a non-binding vote on the issue in March – if voters petition for a referendum. In the past, voters supported the Kingdom Community Wind project in Lowell by a wide margin, which was required for the project to go forward. Voter support has not been discussed as a prerequisite for this project.

Pion said that Staskus and the Lowell selectmen talked only briefly about the project.

Staskus could not be reached for comment.

Irasburg wind opponent Ron Holland noted that the Irasburg select board and the town’s planning commission would have the right to appear as a party in the hearings over the project if the sites of the two turbines in Lowell are close enough to the Irasburg town line.

He cited a section of the Vermont Statutes, Section 248, that govern wind and other energy projects that states that “the legislative body and planning commission of an adjacent municipality shall have the same right if the distance of the facility’s nearest component to the boundary of that adjacent municipality is within 500 feet or 10 times the height of the facility’s tallest component, whichever is greater.”